PVC pipes have been used for more than 60 years and show that they have very long-lasting material properties. They are easy to install, strong and durable and, when they eventually reach the end of their service life, they can be recycled back into new PVC pipes. As a result, PVC pipe systems are very cost efficient.
Until the late 1990s heat stabilisers based on lead salts were widely used to make PVC pipes. These salts are toxic, but once incorporated into the finished pipe or fitting, they are locked inside the matrix and do not leak out. Nevertheless, the use of these lead salts has now been largely discontinued in Europe in favour of other types of heat stabiliser, thus eliminating the exposure of workers who made the lead salts. This was initiated in the framework of the Voluntary Commitment of the European PVC industry, Vinyl 2010, a 10-year programme to move the PVC industry towards more sustainability and now continued as VinylPlus. The lead stabiliser producers committed to replace lead-based stabilisers by the end of 2015 in the EU.